Friday Art: New York Movie (1939) by Edward Hopper

Hopper’s one of my favorites. His paintings of everyday urban life and the fine line between solitude and loneliness in his figures always ropes me in.

This is one of my favorite Hopper paintings, too. Yeah, probably ‘cus I’m a movie guy, and I also love the way he sets up the mystery in what he’s showing us.

The frame is divided in half by the end of the theater wall, separating what looks like an entrance to the balcony on the right from the lower seats to the left. So we get the juxtaposition of the audience watching the screen on the left to the lone woman leaning against the wall under the bright light off to the side.

The red stripe uniform tells us she’s a bored and/or tired usherette (remember, they had movie theater ushers in 1939). She rests her tired chin on her hand, maybe sighing. She evokes the tired & jaded barmaid of Manet’s Foles Bergere – a lone woman jaded at her job, even though the job is connected to the world of flash and entertainment.

And look at the glimpse of what Hopper offers us on the screen – looks like we can see the top of an actor’s head leaning into what looks like a big movie kiss. Is this the magical cinematic promise/fantasy missing from the reality of the usherette’s life?

Those sorts of themes fit in with the rest of Hopper’s output. I also love the colors in this one – the way he uses the oranges and browns to give us the darkness of the theater, with yellows and greens used for both the movie screen and the brightness of that light, illuminating the reds of the curtains on the balcony stairwell. The texture on the carpet is also a nice touch.

And the year fascinates me – 1939 is known as one of the best years for American film. We got The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Dark Victory, Confessions of a Nazi Spy, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Roaring Twenties… all in the same year! Which one of those amazing classic films is the jaded usherette ignoring, I wonder? How jaded must she be to tune out such wonderful movies… unless of course, it’s The Return of Dr. X with Humphrey Bogart as the blood-sucking rabbit-loving mad scientist.

Hey wait, I actually like that one…

I wonder what Hopper’s favorite movies were. I might need to look that up now.

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Football Card For This Weekend: 1960 Fleer Harvey White

As I mentally prepare for this Sunday’s AFC Championship game, the Patriots’ record 8th in a row, I’m thinking about how amazing this run has been.

A lot of us Pats fans get accused of being bandwagoners, who never paid attention to the team pre-Brady era. Well, I’ve been watching & rooting for these guys since the days of Jim Plunkett, Steve Grogan & Sam “BAM” Cunningham. I watched as they’d break yer heart like a true Boston team year after year – first in the playoffs in the late ’70s, to an embarrassing Superbowl wipeout in ’86, and beyond.

When they went 1-15 in the 1990 season, I watched every game at a local sports bar with one other Pats fan. We’d watch them suck, commiserate, and eat the decent food. The one week they beat the Jeff George Colts was a cause for celebration.

Things looked up when horrible owner Victor Kiam sold the team, and thankfully the new owner who wanted to move the team to St. Louis got checkmated by stadium owner Robert Kraft, who then bought the team. He built a new stadium Continue reading “Football Card For This Weekend: 1960 Fleer Harvey White”

A Bittersweet Tour Through Yesterday

Back in the 1960s, resorts in the Poconos attracted fun-seeking young marrieds and celebrities, sort of an alternate Catskills. Numerous fancy schmantzy hotels & spas dotted the landscape.

And now, many of them are abandoned ghost resorts. Lance Longwell of Travel Addicts has a nice article about a lot of the abandoned resorts here – check it out for background and then…

Check out this great piece on dcist by photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer where he took old matchbook cover photos and postcards of the resorts in their heyday (like the pic above) and then took current-day photos of the same locations from the same angles, cross-fading them online. It’s fascinating and depressing all at once, watching the slick resort locales dissolve into graffiti-laden ruin.

Then for more wonderful photography of the abandoned sites, Seph Lawless’ work can be found here in some clickable galleries.

I’d like to think the ghosts of Morty Gunty and Tubby Boots are still putting on shows in those places… but it all has an eerie “The Shining” vibe to it, don’t it?

A New Design

After many, many years of the original look of this blog, I decided upon an overhaul.

Well, I think it looks nicer. Mike & Carol Brady also think it looks nicer.

And according to this theory, you probably wouldn’t want to mess with them.

Enjoy the easier-to-read format, and I’m also thinking the search features are easier to spot & use.

DVR Theater: British Twit Comedy Duo/Hitchapalooza Edition

We’re talkin’ serious OLD SCHOOL British twit comedy duo, too – Charters & Caldicott, the two Cricket-obsessed comedy relief characters first seen in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes in 1938, returning in our first film to discuss, Carrol Reed’s Night Train To Munich (1940).

Night Train To Munich comes across as a clear attempt to crib Hitchcock. Never mind the same screenwriters of The Lady Vanishes & the presence of Basil Radford & Naunton Wayne as the aloof self-absorbed Cricket fans caught up in the middle of the action. We also have the identical star Margaret Lockwood as our plucky heroine, ably assisted by a sarcastic and smug Brit charmer who she first hates and then (of course) falls for. In Lady Vanishes, he’s played by Michael Redgrave. In Night Train, it’s Rex Harrison.

Lady Vanishes manages to balance the droll Brit humor with a nice Hitchcock spy plot and twists, with Lockwood getting boinked on the head and then being told that the sweet little old lady who looked after her and shared tea never actually existed once she vanishes. It’s got a lot of the Hitch formula we’d all grow to love even more with later movies – the average person caught up in the international conspiracy, the mystery/suspense, the use of a train in the plot, and so forth.

But Night Train To Munich one-ups Lady Vanishes in some ways by providing us a more complex spy plot – this time with Lockwood as the daughter of a Czech scientist the Nazis are trying to kidnap and return to Germany. Harrison plays the British agent Continue reading “DVR Theater: British Twit Comedy Duo/Hitchapalooza Edition”

DVR Theater: A Pair Of Fine Noirs, Off The Beaten Path

One of the staples of the crime noir material I love so much is that they are, for the most part, stories told from the male point of view. We often have the male narrator telling us how everything went sour, utilized in Double Indemnity, Murder My Sweet and others. It was an easy way to reproduce the language of the pulp material the films were based on, many of which were in first person narrative from the main male character who lusted/greeded and lost out big time. We’d only see the femme fatale & her motives through his eyes, and be put into the same position as to wondering what those motives really were.

So that’s what makes Too Late For Tears an interesting little number from 1949. This time, we get the story pretty much via the femme fatale’s point of view, following reliable femme fatale Lizabeth Scott’s efforts to hold onto a bag of money literally thrown into her & her husband’s car one dark night. The well-meaning nebbish hubby (Arthur Kennedy) wants to call the cops, she bullies him into stashing the money and waiting… and then things start to get complicated. The always dependable to play a lowlife Dan Duryea shows up as the true target of the drop, and then Scott plays him like the cheap piano he is. Along for the ride are Continue reading “DVR Theater: A Pair Of Fine Noirs, Off The Beaten Path”

No One Romances A Giant Face Better Than Telly Savalas, Baby

I can’t stop watching this.

We begin with that black polyester shirt & chain, Telly lighting up that heater, and then reciting deep-voiced manly words of love that would make William Shatner reciting “Rocket Man” go crawl away crying into the arms of the Gorn in disgrace.

And all to a disembodied giant face. It’s like Kojack is making love to Blonde Zardoz.

I want stuff like this on my TV EVERY. DAMN. NIGHT.

 

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